By Shea Smith
Sindhu Shivani Ravuri was born in Los Gatos, California, but lived her entire life in San Jose. She attended the same school, The Harker School, from kindergarten until 12th grade. Now, a rising sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley, she is working her way through the media studies department.
During her two short years in college, she has gained experience in writing in-depth scientific features for BioCoder Magazine and analyzing research in Delhi, India. In high school, she worked as the head research coordinator for Future Problem Solvers Club. Sindhu experienced being censored while in high school, and, coincidentally, the same man who stopped by her school during the Tinker Tour is the same man who selected her for Active Voice.
“…When he came it just elucidated so much,” said Sindhu. “It certainly ignited an anger within me which led to my passion for student rights, and enabled me to identify wrongful censorship when I saw it in other situations.”
Q: What did you aspire to be when you were younger?
A: Sindhu Ravuri: Exactly like my mother – a rebellious & tenacious journalist or businesswoman with fancy heels that made sure everyone knew I was coming when I walked into a room.
What sparked your interested in Problem Solvers Club?
I wanted to understand the thought process behind integrating a plethora of topics to solve a singular issue. I was becoming aware more and more how merely technical courses or merely humanities solutions could never fully tackle issues like women’s rights, pollution, public health insurance, etc. In our modern society, we have to develop our minds to weave together these different strains into one to affront the burgeoning problems of today. That’s why I wanted to join – to make sure I applied my well-rounded education efficaciously.
What are some of the things you are achieving in Delhi right now?
Developing public policy to significantly improve the quantity and quality of education in Delhi. My project in India hinges on the quality and quantity of education in Delhi, with a concentration on technical education. Since the bureaucracy does not actively push for particular changes, the education sector here in Delhi is neglected (although there are outlined plans for change, few have actualized). Right now, there are approximately 50-60,000 students who do not pursue higher education following either tenth or twelfth grade. Our mission is to ensure that they have the option to pursue a four-year undergraduate program or, if they prefer, a vocational/ skill development two-year training course.
The second aspect of my project surrounds quality of education in the aforementioned institutions — one relatively common aspect of the schools we are looking at is a lack of diversification in the curriculum. For example, IIIT Delhi has several humanities offerings, but nobody graduates with a major in the humanities. Few schools (only about 160 students) have majors in areas like mass communications or media (both very essential in a place like Delhi; this may involve developing plans to start our new institutions/vocational programs).
What made you interested in the issues you are currently focusing on?
I don’t really know why I have been given the opportunities I have been, but each one reiterates my desire to just change the way things are. I am sick of settling and letting the notion of “injustice will always exist,” implant itself in my thought process. As a girl of South Asian background, the progress of my home country means a lot to me — and that means tackling its primary issues. Sex trafficking and rape, as well as lack of education are two central pieces of that mission. I have a responsibility to start with those two because I have been fortunate to have a life and education that many don’t. At least knowing one other person could have a chance of a brighter future, which has been given to me for some reason, by my help or influence is the absolute greatest gift in the world to me.
How does that work interest you in Active Voice’s work?
Active Voice embodies combating injustices against women – it is a strain that is very similar to my work in sex trafficking. Although it appears female censorship is completely separate from other heinous crimes, they all stem from a system meant to weaken women.
My background in activism led me to journalism, which led me to Active Voice.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
I honestly have no idea. I just know I’m happiest when I am working on the grass roots level – interacting with people whose lives are different than mine, and making sure I leave a mark when I see injustice. Whether that means going back to Delhi to work in anti-sex-trafficking organizations, or fighting it through investigative journalism, or being a doctor – I just have no idea. For now, I love being clueless.